Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson wrote the charity song "We Are the World" to relieve African famine 37 years ago. It premiered on MTV on March 7, 1985, and is the eighth best-selling single of all time.
"We Are the World" has been recognized as a politically important song, which "affected an international focus on Africa that was simply unprecedented." It has been credited with creating a climate in which musicians from around the world felt inclined to follow. According to The New York Times' Stephen Holden, since the release of "We Are the World," it has been noted that movement has been made within popular music to create songs that address humanitarian concerns. "We Are the World" was also influential in subverting the way music and meaning were produced, showing that musically and racially diverse musicians could work together both productively and creatively. Ebony described the January 28 recording session, in which Quincy Jones brought together a multi-racial group, as being "a major moment in world music that showed we can change the world". "We Are the World," along with Live Aid and Farm Aid, demonstrated that rock music had become more than entertainment, but a political and social movement. Journalist Robert Palmer noted that such songs and events had the ability to reach people around the world, send them a message, and then get results.
Since the release of "We Are the World", and the Band Aid single that influenced it, numerous songs have been recorded in a similar fashion, with the intent to aid disaster victims throughout the world.
[via Nag on the Lake]